The Abingdon Co., a women’s specialty watch manufacturer and Direct-to-Consumer retailer, with a line of its branded technical performance watches designed for women engaged in active outdoor professions and hobbies (essential workers such as military pilots, commercial airline pilots, first responders, nurses, doctors, and also scuba divers, motorists, and markswomen), has been battling many of the financial challenges facing niche retailers in the era COVID-19.
But the company has employed a “secret weapon” which has delivered a “Survive and Thrive” result. This 12-year-old company founded by pilot and adventurer, Abingdon Mullin, has in its roots and at its heart, a lifestyle brand that resonates with its customers. “A customer is ‘A Crew Member,’ according to Mullin. “I have created an experiential platform which allows my customer base to engage with each other while utilizing their watch.” In fact, the Company offers 400 different combinations of watches and has a 30% repeat purchase rate amongst its base. Online retail typically has a 5% repeat purchase rate.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Company has offered virtual outreach through Crew-connecting experiences such as a three-day Zoom allowing members to focus on the COVID life now and future in terms of personal best goals, family priorities and professional alternatives. “A resounding affirmation I hear from the Crew is that we inspire each other to take control of the COVID challenges and navigate around them,” Mullin says.
The Abingdon Co. also recently launched its own YouTube Channel on June 1, 2020, a fast-paced series of empowering women actively engaged in daring outdoor pursuits with lessons learned from the challenge.
“As a niche retailer in this financially dicey COVID world, I believe that having built a sustainable brand has been my “Survive and Thrive” weapon. I highly recommend to any small business that deals directly with the consumer, that it should be developing a communication, relationship and mutual identity with its customers. Customer loyalty is a great asset in the face of this financial adversity,” Mullin said.
In addition to stronger engagement and strengthening relationships with customers, Mullin also looked to the federal government assistant programs for help and has been successful in benefiting from a PPP loan and an EIDL offered by the SBA. Mullin says: “This is the first time in American history that the government has put money into the hands of small businesses to use as they see fit without asserting control over the business. Being measured, prudent, wise and not panicked has supported our company through 2020 Q1 and Q2.”
The Abingdon Co. is a Las Vegas-based manufacturer and direct-to-consumer retailer of women’s technical performance watches. Its line of “Adventurous Watches for Adventurous Women,” offers multiple functions with unique interchangeable bands that customize to the needs of its Crew-Member wearers. The non-profit side of the company, Abingdon Foundation, has a mission to promote the female pursuit of STEAM industries through networking, community, and scholarships.